核持ち込み 政府は密約の存在を認めよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun(Jul. 1, 2009)
Govt should admit secret N-deal with U.S.
核持ち込み 政府は密約の存在を認めよ(7月1日付・読売社説)

It is no longer possible for the government to maintain its official stance of denying the existence of a deal between Japan and the United States that tacitly allows U.S. forces to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese territory. The time has come for the government to admit the existence of this accord and explain the facts surrounding it to the public.

In a recent interview with news media, including The Yomiuri Shimbun, Ryohei Murata, a former administrative vice foreign minister, revealed the existence of the accord between the Japanese and U.S. governments under which Japan tacitly approves port calls and passage through Japanese territorial waters by U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons.

When the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty was revised in 1960, the two countries agreed that U.S. forces would only bring nuclear weapons onto Japanese soil if prior bilateral consultations were held.

However, while this applied to the deployment or storage of nuclear weapons at U.S. bases in Japan, it has long been speculated that the two countries reached a secret deal to exempt port calls, stopovers and passage through Japanese territorial waters and airspace by U.S. warships and aircraft carrying nuclear weapons from the bilateral consultation rule.

The government has consistently denied the existence of a secret accord, but it should seriously consider the fact that a former top bureaucrat of the Foreign Ministry, who had direct knowledge of the secret accord within the ministry, has admitted its existence.


Cold War confrontation

Around 1960, in the midst of the Cold War, the general public of this nation was strongly allergic to all things nuclear, and there was constant confrontation between the conservative and progressive sides of politics.

Therefore, it can be seen in some ways unavoidable that the government concluded a secret accord with Washington, with an eye on national security in the event of military emergency.

It is right and proper that secrets associated with diplomatic negotiations be kept if a country is to maintain mutual trust with its partner.

However, nearly half a century has passed since then and the situation both at home and abroad has dramatically changed.

On the U.S. side, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin Reischauer and others have, in the past, revealed the contents of the secret accord to the media. Many U.S. official documents that include mention of the deal have been publicly disclosed.

In Japan, after the collapse of the so-called 1955 regime, which saw a political polarization with the Liberal Democratic Party on one side and the Japan Socialist Party on the other right through to 1993, the environment is becoming ripe for a comprehensive debate on national security.


Review nonnuclear principles

Any continuation by the government of its labored attempts to hide the existence of the secret deal is not in line with national interests. Rather, maintaining the line that there is no deal can only bring negative effects as it would, for example, damage public trust in the government's handling of diplomatic and national security policies.

If the government is to review the secret accord, it will inevitably be required to revisit its long-standing three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not allowing nuclear weapons on this nation's soil.

However, while it is appropriate to maintain the principles of not possessing or producing nuclear weapons, the government should be given free rein to review, in a considered manner, the principle of not allowing nuclear weapons on the country's soil.

Temporary port calls and passage through Japanese territorial waters by U.S. warships carrying nuclear weapons are significantly different in their implications to the deploying and storing of nuclear weapons on the ground.

Japan is faced with growing security concerns due to both the increasingly serious nuclear and missile threat posed by North Korea and China's rapid military buildup.

To enhance the nation's deterrent ability under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, it is important that U.S. forces be allowed to operate flexibly in the event of a military emergency. The government must tackle the debate on nuclear weapons with no subject considered taboo.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 1, 2009)
(2009年7月1日01時53分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2009-07-01 09:48 | 英字新聞

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